We are in an unprecedented situation in the world, our country, and our communities. At some point when we have done everything we can to situate our families, our professional lives, and our sense of the “new normal,” we can begin to consider how we will find continuity in this shared passion of Danzan Ryu Jujutsu.
I once had an English Professor who told his students that we should memorize Shakespeare sonnets and passages so that if we were ever trapped in a cave-in we could do mental exercises to pass the time and maintain sanity. I have long forgotten them, but I recently found myself visualizing techniques from memorized lists, as I fell asleep each night for the past several months, preparing for a rank exam. The effect was the same, although I was dealing with the pressure of a pending test, instead of thousands of pounds of dirt and rock.
Now we find ourselves now trying to maintain our jujutsu without being present on a mat or having an Uke. Jujutsu is not just a physical thing we are missing. It is also there to help us maintain our mental and emotional health. Here are some ways to continue your training until this situation resolves:
- AJJF Professors Teaching Jujutsu Remotely During Isolation
- Doing your Kata – Do all of your lists (alone). Go through the motions with an imaginary Uke, go through the motions only in your mind, or set up some simple ways to go through the motions with some resistance.
- Conditioning – There are many ways to condition your body that will continue to maintain or even build your strength, endurance, flexibility and agility. (Qi Gong, Kowami, Tai Chi, Yoga, cardio, weight lifting, stretching, etc)
- Notebook work – When I took a long hiatus from jujutsu, just reading my notebook for a few weeks kick-started my time back on the mat. You can also take this time to revise and think about the knowledge you have acquired at events and in the dojo since you wrote those earlier techniques.
- Learning about Danzan Ryu – There is history for us to think about and there are also voices that we have lost. Watch some of these awesome sensei who are no longer with us:
- Weapon work – there are plenty of weapon skills that don’t require an Uke. We often don’t get as much time to work on them at the dojo, where we are more focused on the techniques that do require an Uke. Take this time to explore.
- Reading – Ask your sensei what you should be reading. There are many books and articles available to help you find deeper meaning in your discipline.
- Connecting with your dojo by phone, video conference, threaded discussions – A big part of why we go to the dojo is to maintain social connection with people who share our passion. Keep finding ways to connect with your martial artist friends. You can do so as a group with any number of free video conferencing tools, such as Google Hangouts.
- Watching Martial Arts Videos as a group – You can combine some of the above ideas by watching a Youtube video as a group and communicating with one another, discussing it in real time.
All of the included links above are simply to show you examples of the many resources that exist. Once you find a concept that resonates with you, run with that and find better resources. Just don’t let this time slip away as you are barred from the dojo! If these types of emergencies teach us anything, it is that time and opportunity are gifts. We can’t waste them.
If you are a sensei, then all of the above applies to you, but you also have a responsibility to engage your students and make sure they are doing everything they can to grow, learn, and engage despite the current isolation.
Here are some recent thoughts from Professor Hilary Kaplowitz:
While jujitsu class might be the last thing on everyone’s minds, it might also be of comfort to your students to have something semi-normal. If you feel up to it you might consider doing something to keep your students’ training going. If nothing else, you as sensei can help your dojo community by providing some comforting words and connecting with your students who might be more affected, need help or isolated. I have a number of students who live alone and I plan to check in regularly with them.
You could send out emails or do a video conference. There are tons of things to do for solo practices (qi gong, kowami, conditioning, stretching, etc). We are setting up daily challenges for us to do to keep our training going. And/or you could turn to the scholar side and do a history review, share some photos or do a bookclub (maybe start with an article from the Kiai Echo). My dojo is doing all these things and we met online on a video conference yesterday. We are also going to do a social group movie night and simultaneously, remotely, watch a martial arts movie.